What are the Grand Design Fifth Wheels?

There are many options for you to consider when you buy an RV. One of the main decisions you’ll need to make is whether to purchase a fifth-wheel trailer or a motor home. There are advantages and drawbacks to both styles, so your decision will come down to personal preference. Our experts here at Bretz RV & Marine have answered some of the most common questions about Grand Design fifth-wheel campers. Whether you’re wondering how to get hitched up or how to level your fifth wheel, we can give you some tips.

What Is a Fifth Wheel?

You may be wondering, ‘What is a fifth wheeler?’ or ‘Why is it called a fifth wheel?’ The term fifth wheel refers to a type of hitch built into the bed of a truck. Its name comes from the original design of the hitch in the early 1900s, when it looked like a wheel. The main advantage of a fifth-wheel hitch is that it spreads out the weight of the trailer you’re towing across the truck’s frame. In addition, it allows the front axle of your truck to move independently, improving your driving experience with a heavy load at the rear. This comes in handy when you’re hauling a big camper out of town.

The fifth-wheel hitch differs from a standard tow hitch, which pulls a trailer at the rear of your truck or SUV. These types of hitches offer less control over your trailer and limit you to hauling smaller campers. Moreover, fifth-wheel trailers are an alternative to motorhomes, such as a class A or class B camper powered by a big diesel engine. With so many choices to make, you may feel overwhelmed. However, there are some key points about each camper type that you can focus on.

Fifth-Wheel Camper vs Fifth-Wheel Trailer

The first advantage of a fifth-wheel camper is that it has additional space for you. The camper isn’t restricted by having to fit an engine and driver’s cab inside. Instead, it can use the extra space to expand your storage options, add a kitchen for the road, or add another sleeping area to your camper. As a result, fifth-wheel campers are particularly popular for larger families who need all the space they can get when they hit the road.

Another positive feature of a fifth wheel is flexibility. Once you’ve set up your trailer at your chosen spot, you can leave to pick up some shopping or take a day trip without packing up your entire camper. This flexibility may also come in handy if you run out of fresh water or need to collect fuel. Between camping trips, you can use your truck as a normal vehicle or to run errands around town. This option isn’t open for those with a motorhome.

This benefit can become a drawback if you don’t already have a truck. If that’s the case, you may have to make two investments to purchase a vehicle and a travel trailer. In this situation, a motorhome may be preferable, since you can continue to drive whatever vehicle you like at home.

Fifth-wheel campers tend to be cheaper to purchase than a motorhome of a comparable size. That’s assuming you already have the truck necessary to tow it. After your purchase, you can also look forward to better fuel economy from your truck with a trailer at the rear than you’d get with a motorhome of the same size.

Fifth wheelers can also be easier to maneuver around corners than bulkier motorhomes. The additional control you have over your trailer compared to a standard hitch also helps ensure you can take curves with confidence.

That being said, you may prefer the added convenience of a motorhome. When you’re on the road, you can easily access your living space without having to get out of your vehicle and enter the trailer. You also don’t need to worry about fifth wheel coupling and disconnecting it from the hitch when you arrive at your destination. This can make setting off and arriving at your campsite a more relaxed experience for everyone.

Leveling a Fifth-Wheel RV

One of the most important things you’ll need to learn if you opt for a fifth-wheel camper is how to level it at your chosen site. An uneven camper isn’t just irritating when you’re trying to sleep. It can also damage electrical appliances like refrigerators, which need a flat surface to operate safely.

Luckily, leveling is quite a simple task to perform in a few steps. The first is to inspect a camping spot for its suitability before you unhitch your trailer. You can even use a leveling app on your phone to assess how flat the ground is. It’s wise to have leveling blocks on hand in case you stop on a hill. These blocks are thin, often measuring an inch in thickness. Once you’ve identified the downhill side of your camper, just place the blocks in front of your tires before pulling your trailer forward slowly so it rolls into position.

Besides leveling blocks, you can also use jacks at the front and back of your camper to adjust its height. While it’s best to position your blocks before you detach your trailer from the hitch, you should focus on the jacks once your trailer is detached. Raising the front or back a little can help guard against excessive rocking in your trailer.

There are many reasons to consider a fifth-wheel camper as your next purchase. If you’re still unsure or would just like to get a closer look at a fifth wheel on the road, we’d be happy to arrange a test drive for you at our Montana or Idaho locations. Alternatively, you can always explore our fifth wheelers and other camper styles by browsing our online inventory. Should you have questions about our campers or accessories, reach out to us today. At Bretz RV & Marine, we combine camping expertise with attractive financing options to help realize your dream purchase.

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